************ Sermon on Luke 4:14-37 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 16, 2012
"He is Christ"
I The Messiah
A The Messiah. For centuries they dreamed about Him. They waited for Him. They prayed for Him. They looked for Him. In the deserts and villages, along the seas and hills, among the rich and the poor, the Jews talked about the coming of God's anointed servant, the Messiah.
The Messiah. He will make all things right. When the Messiah comes the sick will be healed, the lame will dance, the blind will see a world of vivid color, the deaf will listen with wonder to the songs of birds and choirs, those who have leprosy will be cured, the dead will be raised, the prisoner will be set free (Is 61).
The coming of the Messiah impacts society and creation as well. Deserts will be turned into fragrant gardens of blooming flowers and into fields of amber grain (Is 35). Bayonets will be turned into gardening tools (Is 2). The tyranny experienced by the oppressed will end and the rich and powerful will no longer take advantage of the poor and powerless. Enemies will be turned into friends. Jerusalem will be the center of the world and all the kings and rulers of earth will come there to bow and pay their respects (Is 2).
When the Messiah comes covenant promises and obligations – repeatedly broken and long forgotten – will be fulfilled.
B Who or what is the Messiah? You probably realize that "Messiah" is a Hebrew word. In the Greek the word is "Christ." In the English, both titles mean "Anointed One." In the Old Testament period prophets (1 Kings 19:16), priests (Ex. 28:41; 40:15; Num. 3:3), and kings (1 Sam. 9:16; 16:3; 2 Sam. 12:7) were the anointed ones – with oil they were anointed to their offices. Like them, the promised Messiah is anointed to His offices. Unlike them, He is anointed with the Spirit.
Who or what is the Messiah? The prophets described the Messiah in many different ways. Sometimes they talked of the Messiah as a great warrior king. As David had slain the Philistines, so the Messiah – the new David, the Son of David and the Son of God – would slay God's enemies (Is 63). On the other hand, they also talked of the Messiah as a man of sorrows who would be slaughtered like a sheep or goat for the sins of others (Is 53). And, they talked of the Messiah as a prophet, like Elijah and Elisha, who would preach good news to the poor (Is 61). Do you hear the three offices of the Messiah? He is prophet, priest, and king.
None of this is new to those who know the Heidelberg Catechism and recognize Q & A 31 here:
Why is he called "Christ," meaning "anointed"?
Because he has been ordained by God the Father
and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit
our chief prophet and teacher
who perfectly reveals to us
the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance;
our only high priest
who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body,
and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;
and our eternal king
who governs us by his Word and Spirit,
and who guards us and keeps us
in the freedom he has won for us.
Who or what is the Messiah? According to the Christmas angels, He is the little baby in Bethlehem's manger: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11). That is, He is the Messiah, the Anointed One.
C This year for Advent we've been asking the question, Why did Jesus come? Why did the eternal Son of God take to Himself a truly human nature? We've learned He came to save us from hell. We've learned He came as the second Adam. This evening we look at Him as the Christ Who is the anointed king. This morning we learn He came as the Christ Who is the anointed prophet.
Jesus came as the Christ. Jesus came as a prophet. In our Scripture reading we notice that Christ is praised as prophet, rejected as prophet, and acknowledged as prophet.
II Christ Jesus Praised as Prophet (vs 14-15)
A The first thing we notice in our Bible reading is that Jesus is praised as Christ the prophet.
(Lk 4:14-15) Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. (15) He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.Jesus is preaching and teaching. He is being a prophet. And, everyone is talking about Him. Everyone is praising Him. For the moment at least, Jesus is the center of interest and acclamation.
Like the great Old Testament prophets, Jesus' teaching was not just with words but also with deeds. Moses, Elijah, and Elisha not only said but they also did. In verse 23 Jesus mentions Capernaum and the things He did there. What sort of things? We know that Jesus healed a paralyzed servant (Mt 8:5). He healed Simon's mother-in-law (Mk 1:30-31). He healed many who had various diseases and drove out many demons (Mk 1:32-34). He healed the paralytic let down through the roof (Mk 2:1-12). By doing all of this Jesus showed He had the authority as prophet to proclaim freedom and forgiveness (Lk 4:18; Mk 2:8-10).
B Luke give us a little but very important detail. He tells us that Jesus returned to Galilee "in the power of the Spirit" (Lk 4:14). Why is this important? Because, according to Isaiah 61 (quoted in verse 18 of our Scripture reading), this is one of the characteristics of the Christ or Messiah (cf Lk 4:18). Don't forget, the Christ or Messiah is the anointed one. He is anointed with the Spirit as prophet.
But Luke doesn't simply tell us that Jesus is anointed with the Spirit. Rather, he tells us that Jesus is filled with "the power of the Spirit" (Lk 4:14). Meaning what? Meaning that Jesus as prophet taught with authority. As verse 32 puts it, the people "were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority" (Lk 4:32). Jesus taught with authority. Look at the Sermon on the Mount sometime. Throughout you hear the expression, "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago ... But I tell you." Jesus' authority did not come because He agreed with those who taught before Him. Jesus' authority did not come because He built on the teachings of earlier rabbis. Rather, Jesus dared to speak on His own authority: "But I tell you. But I say to you." Jesus' teaching was by the power of the Spirit.
And, by the power of that same Spirit, Jesus is able to heal and do all His mighty acts.
So, indeed, Christ Jesus is acclaimed as a great and mighty teacher. He is anointed and praised as prophet.
III Christ Jesus Rejected as Prophet (vs 16-30)
A In the second part of our Bible reading we see Jesus returning home to Nazareth. And, as was His custom, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Lk 4:16). We are talking about the Son of God. We are talking about Him Who is part of the eternal Godhead. We are talking about Him Who perfectly walked and talked with God. If anyone could miss worship, it was Him. But He didn't.
If the eternal Son of God made a custom of regular worship why should we be any different? Unlike Him, of course, we are imperfect and filled with sin that separates us from God. We need worship to connect with God. We need worship to live in the joy of salvation and forgiveness. Yet, there are far too many among us who don't make worship a weekly custom. As I mentioned before, it used to be that "oncers" were defined as those who came to church once a Sunday. In many places and churches "oncers" are now defined as those who come to church only once a month. Be like Jesus the Christ, congregation, and make weekly worship your custom.
B You might be surprised to learn that our worship service largely follows the model of early synagogue worship. Upon entry into the building the Jewish worshiper had a moment of private or silent prayer. This was followed by a public confession of the Jewish faith (using the Shema). After this came a time of prayer. Then came the center of the worship, the reading of the Scriptures. A passage from the Pentateuch was read, according to a fixed schedule, usually by several members of the congregation in turn, with an Aramaic paraphrase for those who did not understand Hebrew. There was also a lesson from the prophets; most commentators believe this too was according to a fixed lectionary. Following the readings was a prayer, and then came a sermon, if someone was present who was competent to give one. The service ended with a prayer.
C We are told Jesus was one of the readers. This was no accident. By the providence of God, Jesus was one of the readers appointed for that Sabbath's day worship. And, by the providence of God, the scheduled reading for the day came from Isaiah 61. With this in mind, listen to what Jesus read:
(Lk 4:18-19) "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, (19) to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Do you hear the passage Jesus read? A Messianic passage. A passage about the Christ. A passage about the office of prophet. A passage about the Spirit and its anointing.
When Jesus was finished reading, He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him. Why? Don't forget the immediate setting: people were talking about Him and praising Him as prophet. This would include the people of His home town of Nazareth. Within this setting, they could only be expecting one thing: a sermon. They could only be expecting to hear Jesus as the amazing prophet everyone was talking about.
Jesus did not disappoint them! What a sermon He gave them. Based upon what He had just read from Isaiah. Based upon what He had just read about the Messiah. "Today," He said, "this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Lk 4:21).
I want you to think carefully about what Jesus just said. More than that, I want you to think carefully about what Jesus just claimed. In front of the people of His home town, in front of the people who watched Him grow up, in front of the people who knew His father and mother and brothers and sisters (cf Lk 4:22), Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, the Christ, anointed by the Spirit as prophet. Jesus was claiming to be the One for Whom all of Israel was waiting and watching and praying. Jesus was claiming to be the one spoken about by Isaiah.
"I am the Messiah." That's what Jesus was saying and claiming. "I am the Promised One. I am the Anointed One. I am the Christ."
Now, Jesus knew their thoughts and their hearts. So, He continued His sermon. Let me paraphrase His words:
"Right now you are thinking, if you are the Messiah, why don't you do the same sort of things we heard that you did in Capernaum." (paraphrase of Lk 4:23)Then He continued with two reasons why He was not going to do this. First, no prophet is ever accepted in his hometown. Second, like Elijah and Elisha He will bring His message with power to those outside His hometown (cf Lk 4:24-27).
Upon hearing this the people of Jesus' hometown were furious – furious enough to form a lynch mob in order to throw Him to His death from a cliff.
What made them so angry? Obviously, the people of Nazareth did not accept Jesus' claim to be the Christ, the Messiah. They didn't like it that Jesus was unwilling to do in Nazareth the same kind of miracles He did in Capernaum. They didn't like it that places beside Nazareth can lay claim to Jesus' work and ministry.
Do you see how things have shifted? Do you see how things have changed? At the beginning of our passage Jesus was talked about and praised as Christ the prophet. But now He is hated and reviled and rejected and despised as Christ the prophet.
IV Christ Jesus Acknowledged as Prophet (vs 31-37)
A In the third part of our Bible reading we see another dramatic turn-around. Jesus went back to Capernaum. Again, He was teaching. Again, they were amazed at His teaching and His authority.
But, but, we don't hear of a single person connecting the dots. We don't hear of a single person having an "ah ha" moment. We don't hear of a single person recognizing the truth about Jesus. We don't hear of a single person acknowledging that Jesus must be the Messiah, the Christ, anointed by the Spirit as prophet.
The message of the Gospel has one purpose – that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name (cf Jn 20:31). How disappointing that no one yet has reached this point. How disappointing that they can talk about Jesus and be impressed by Him but still not know the truth about Him.
B Into this void steps a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice,
(Lk 4:34) "Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"Isn't this sad? A demon-possessed man has the "ah ha" moment. A demon-possessed man recognizes the truth about Jesus while His own family and friends do not and will not!
"Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" The evil spirit had no choice but to obey. Why? Because Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed prophet Who speaks with the authority of God and is filled with the power of God (cf Lk 4:35-37).
Again, the people were amazed (cf Lk 4:36-37).
In this season of Advent we see that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed prophet filled with the Spirit.
How do you respond to Him? Do you reject Him, like the people of Nazareth? Do you praise Him, like many in Galilee and Capernaum? Or, do you acknowledge Him for Who He is, like the demon-possessed man?
The last response is the best. However, it is not enough to merely know Who Jesus is. As I already said, you must also believe and by believing have life in His name.
In this season of Advent, do you believe Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Christ, the anointed prophet? Do you believe Jesus perfectly reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance?
And by believing do you have life in His name?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page